COP26 at a glance…

The Environment Journal team headed down to Glasgow on Monday to attend the COP26 Summit. So far we have seen global leaders, politicians and billionaires all making pledges to protect the planet, but what has really been achieved? 

Day one of the conference began with the World Leader’s Summit, where global leaders came together to take part in negotiations.

The agenda for the week began with Action on Forests and Land Use.

Throughout the presentations, leaders highlighted that addressing biodiversity loss is key to addressing the climate crisis, with President Joe Biden stating they will use the ‘full range of U.S tools’ to halt biodiversity loss.

Over 100 leaders committed to working together to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. 

Leaders included Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil under whose presidency, deforestation in the Amazon has increased by 9.5% year-on-year. 

Greenpeace has slammed this announcement as a green light for another decade of forest destruction.

Carolina Pasquali, executive director at Greenpeace Brazil said: ‘There’s a very good reason Bolsonaro felt comfortable signing on to this new deal. It allows another decade of forest destruction and it isn’t binding.

‘Meanwhile, the Amazon is already on the brink and can’t survive years more deforestation. Indigenous Peoples are calling for 80% of the Amazon to be protected by 2025, and they’re right, that’s what’s needed. The climate and the natural world can’t afford this deal.’

12 donor countries also pledged to provide £8.75bn of public climate finance from 2021 to 2025 to a new Global Forest Finance Pledge. This will support action in developing countries, including restoring degraded land, tackling wildfires and advancing the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

In addition, 12 country and philanthropic donors pledged at least £1.1bn to protect the forests of the Congo Basin. This is the area home to the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, which is critically important to global efforts to address climate change as well as to sustainable development in the region.

President Biden also unveiled a multinational plan to control methane, regarded by the administration as the single most potent way to combat the climate crisis in the short term.

The Global Methane Pledge aims to limit methane emissions by 30% compared with 2020 levels.

The alliance includes two-thirds of the global economy and half of the top 30 major methane emitter countries. China, India and Russia have not joined the pact known as the Global Methane Pledge.

For the second day of COP26, global leaders joined the finance industry to discuss how we can achieve a ‘Financial System for Net-Zero.’ 

The day began with a speech by Rishi Sunak where he pledged to deliver a total of $500bn investment to the countries that need it most.

He said: ‘I can announce that the United Kingdom will commit £100m to the Taskforce on Access to Climate Finance, making it quicker and easier for developing countries to get the finance they need.

‘And we’re also supporting a new Capital Markets Mechanism, which will issue billions of new green bonds here in the UK, to fund renewable energy in developing countries.’

As part of his speech, he also announced that large UK companies will have to publish net-zero transition plans.

To guard against greenwashing, a science-based ‘gold standard’ will be drawn up by a new Transition Plan Taskforce, composed of industry and academic leaders, regulators, and civil society groups.

It is now Thursday morning and although we are yet to see the full extent of the commitments made, as part of Energy Day more than 40 countries have already agreed to phase out coal power. 

The nations have committed to ending all investment in new coal power generation domestically and internationally while also making a just transition away from coal power in a way that benefits workers and communities. 

Major coal-using countries including Poland, Vietnam and Chile are among those to make the commitment.

However, some of the world’s biggest coal-dependent economies, including Australia, China, India and the US were missing from the deal.

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